Why Two Devices

I used to travel with two laptops, one as a backup, however lately I’ve switched to taking the iPad and a laptop. The iPad doesn’t double as a backup, but it does let me do things like take notes at events or conferences with an extremely long battery life. My laptop only gets 2-2.5 hours, and when you’re on the go for 10 hours, you need something else. I also use the iPad for demos of SQL Monitor, from Red Gate, using http://monitor.red-gate.com/ 

However I’ve been tempted to get a real second machine, something that is truly a backup. I read Brent Ozar’s post on his MacBook Air, and it’s really tempting to get one of those, especially as I use VMware, which works agree both Mac and PCs.

Seth Godin as another interesting argument for a second machine. Use one for pleasure, or distractions, and one for work. That’s not bad, but I kind of do that with my phone. I read on it and listen to music, as a break from the laptop (or sometimes in conjunction with it).

I’m a practical guy, and don’t want to get (too many) gadgets for fun, especially laptops. I went through that last year, going from a Win 7 tablet to the iPad, which was a good move for me. At least my daughter thinks so.

For now I think I’ll stick with just the iPad and my Lenovo. However when I look for a new laptop, I have to say that the MBP will be high on my list, just to try something new.

And the winners are….. (iPads for Christmas contest)

Congratulations to the following winners of our iPads for Christmas contest. It was a hard choice, but I ended up with these winners:

  • CC-597066
  • DataChomp
  • Scott Murray-240410
  • richardn-1128243
  • Michael Lysons
  • chris.cantley
  • Nick Van Dyk
  • barb.wendling
  • hghumphrey
  • MdApache

I had over a 100 entries to go through, and it  took some time, and a few passes to get down to about 20, then 14, then pick the last 10. These were interesting entries, and while it was close, these seemed to stand out in my mind.

I’ll be contacting the winners today, and then letting Red Gate know as well and we’ll get those iPad shipments moving.

Thanks to everyone that entered, and happy holidays to you all.

iPads for Christmas

Recently I mentioned that having a smartphone has made me much more productive. I’m on the move fairly often, and the ability to respond to emails and keep in touch with people, take notes, and check on SQLServerCentral from almost anywhere in the world has become very valuable to me. It certainly is a double edged sword as it is also hard to get away from work. Setting those boundaries is important, and smartphone or not, I would encourage you to make sure you have some boundaries with your employer.

The iPad is a new device that changes the game in terms of what we can do with mobile devices. It handles remote connectivity in a way unlike smartphones, but is less cumbersome than a laptop and works in many situations where you might not want to carry, or power up, a laptop.

Back in October, I got an email from my employer, Red Gate Software. Wibke, in the Marketing department, asked for people with iPads to take pictures of themselves using the new SQL Monitor software to remotely monitor servers. It seemed fun to my wife, who got me on a horse for the picture you see here.

It was contrived, after all, I couldn’t really check on the SQLServerCentral servers from a horse. The ranch is too large, and my wireless signal won’t reach out to the far side of the barn. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t monitor my servers from outside if I had wireless connectivity. You, however, can see how the SQLServerCentral database cluster is running by connecting to the remote demo instance of SQL Monitor and see in real-time how our servers are performing.

The idea of using an iPad to monitor your servers, and even get work done, however, isn’t contrived. I used my iPad to show off SQL Monitor at SQL Saturday #59in New York City, and I have a friend that manages many of his Windows servers using iTap, a remote RDP program for the iPad. At SQL Connections this year, I was surprised to see quite a few people checking their email in Outlook using RDP technology from an iPad. I asked a few people what they thought and while it was more limited than using a laptop, most of these geeks thought the iPad was more convenient in a remote environment.

But I Don’t Have an iPad?

Not many people have iPads, and most of my geek friends find them to be an expensive toy. I mostly agree, but I have found you can definitely use these devices for work. So I’m going to give you a chance to have your own iPad and let me know if you agree.

Red Gate has decided to sponsor three contests, all of them related to SQL Monitor, and all designed to get you an iPad in time for Christmas. I have 10 iPads to give away, along with 10 licenses of SQL Monitor to install on a server and let you begin using your iPad for work right away. That’s decimal ten, not binary 10, so there will be quite a few winners.

Actually there will be 30 winners, since Brent Ozar and Grant Fritchey are running their own SQL Monitor/iPad contests and each giving away ten bundles of their own. You can read about Brent’s contest on BrentOzar.com, and Grant’s contest at ScaryDBA.com. Brent is asking where you might go and use an iPad for monitoring while Grant is asking about how this might help you find a better work/life balance.

My contest is asking a little different question. I’d like you to think a little bit about how you could create new synergies with the iPad. How could you do your job better, a little quicker, or in a new way if you had a small, lightweight tablet with a large screen that gives you the connectivity to reach other computing resources. I’m looking for some creativity and a thoughtful way of freeing yourself from a desk and at the same time bringing some additional value to your employer.

Think about it a bit and write me an interesting paragraph in the discussion for this editorial. I’ll judge the entries submitted before Friday , Dec 17, 2010 and ship off some iPads to the ten best over the weekend.

Good luck and send me an interesting note. You can only enter one of the three contests, so think about which one make the most sense for you:

The fine print rules:

  1. The contest is open to professionals with SQL Server monitoring responsibility. Entrants must be 18 years old or over.
  2. Entries must be received by Friday, December 17, 2010. The contest organizers accept no responsibility for corrupted or delayed entries.
  3. Employees of Red Gate, the contest organizers and their family members are not eligible to participate in the contest.
  4. Entries are limited to one per person across the three simultaneous contests hosted on www.sqlservercentral.com,www.brentozar.com, and www.scarydba.com.
  5. The organizers reserve the right, within their sole discretion, to disqualify nominations.
  6. The organizers’ decisions are final.
  7. Red Gate Software and those involved in the organization, promotion, and operation of the contest and in the awarding of prizes explicitly make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the quality, suitability, merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose of the prizes awarded and they hereby disclaim all liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including personal injury, suffered while participating in the contest or utilizing any prizes awarded.

Important dates

  1. Deadline for entries: Friday, December 17, 2010.
  2. Winner announced in week commencing Monday, December 20, 2010.

Good Luck to you all and leave me a comment in the discussion for your chance to win. (hint, I talk a touch more in the podcast for what I’m looking for)

Steve Jones

iPad Update

I updated the iPad tonight to iOS 4.2. I had no particular reason to upgrade, but I saw a few people posting that they had upgraded, and noticed a few apps people had talked about the productivity upgrades of a few apps that required iOS 4.x.

It took a long time. I started at 3:10, but it required iTunes 10.1, and then I had to download the firmware, and it was still updating when I last checked around 6. So I left it and went to karate.

When I got home, it looked the same. The only difference was the addition of “GameCenter” on the main screen. I checked settings, and sure enough it had been updated, but nothing showed multi-tasking, and I couldn’t create a folder.

However a double click on the home button brought up the multi-tasking window, so I could see what was running. Semi-cool, but not sure how useful. We’ll see as I try to use it more. I added DropBox, EasyReader (for PDFs) and a few more items people had mentioned, including a Twitter app.

Now I’ll play with it a bit and see how useful it is.

I also sent a note to a friend to see if they wanted my tablet. If not, I’ll be looking to sell that on eBay and recover some funds. I have the feeling I won’t be traveling with it, and instead I’d like to have the money and look to perhaps upgrade my phone instead.

One thing I noticed last week was in typing on the iPad. I grabbed it to do a bit of blogging and I was surprised at how fast I could type on the virtual keyboard. The spacing is similar to what I like and the audible clicks were very handy. I can see those as being annoying at a conference, so I’d likely need headphones for the feedback for me, set low enough to let me still here what I’m taking notes on.

A cooler, and cooler device, the more I play with it.

Kindle v iPad

I don’t have either, but I ran across this comparison on the devices. It says get both, if you’re a consumer of media and culture. To some extent I do think that it’s got a perspective that makes sense, and if you can afford a $500 iPad (or more), then you can probably add in a $140 Kindle without worrying about it.

I had a Gen 1 Kindle, and I have an iPhone that is my primary way to read. I read on flights, and while I do take breaks and play some games, I think it’s a matter of attention span. Books that are really, really good hold my attention, and I won’t move on to anything else.

Books that I struggle with, or require more thinking, I switch off at times. When I read business books, I sometimes need to think about something, so I’ll close the Kindle app for a minute, maybe play a game, and let my mind wander with what I’ve read.

There definitely is a difference in reading on an LCD and e-ink. It doesn’t bother me, or it doesn’t appear to, but I understand that it might bother some people, and if that’s the case, a Kindle/Nook/eReader makes more sense.

I’m not sure if I’ll get an iPad. It has to function in my life and add something to it, and I’m not sure it’s that much better than an iPhone. Talking with someone recently that carries an iPhone, iPad, and laptop, they tended to use the iPad regularly, but it didn’t remove the need for the other devices. We’ll see if I make a case in my mind to get one.

However you do it, go read. It’s good for you.